Horticulture in Peru in turbulent times

Our Agricultural Advisor in Lima (Peru), Salvador Orrego, talked to Gabriel Amaro, Executive Director of the Association of Peruvian Agricultural Producers Guilds (AGAP). He looked back on the situation of protest and violence in Peru and how it has impacted the country's agro-export sector. Despite its effects on the country, Peru demonstrates a resilient agro-export sector that reaches a record figure in agro-exports registering US$ 9,800 million and representing an increase of 12% over 2021. The country is back at 100% with its agro-exports.

Gabriel Amaro - Executive Director Peruvian Agroexport Association
Beeld: ©LAN / LNV

After the impeachment of the president, and change of government early December, Peru went through some critical weeks. The demonstrations that took place have now calmed down, but early on they caused companies great difficulties in exporting their produce, as highways were blocked, and protests unfortunately also targeted many agro-exporting companies, members of AGAP, as well as state entities.

Exports stopped temporarily

Export to almost 150 countries, the market for Peruvian produce, was impeded as critical transit points were blocked, including the main agro-export center of the region of La Libertad and Ica. Some emblematic crops such as table grapes, blueberries, asparagus, onions, garlic, among other agro-export crops, besides the crops that go to local markets, were affected, and with those, the entire value chain and the people involved in them. Companies had to stop their business in many cases. On the one hand, they could not handle all that they could harvest -  as this requires cold chain and the warehouses in the harvest processing plants have limited storage. Due to this, there have been days when there have been no shipments at all. On the other hand, it was necessary to guarantee the safety of the employees.

Agrologistics situation

In the center of the country, we have the main port of Peru, the port of Callao, next to Lima. This is where the largest amount of container cargo is delivered, and the Jorge Chavez airport is also there. This area is the main hub, also for Lima. Produce was taken out from there, and Lima was always well provided, thanks to the production in the surrounding areas of the metropolis. On the north side we have the port of Paita, in Piura, which also serves as an outlet for a large number of containers from the country. In the south this is different: all merchandise from the south leaves through Callao, and the protests affected the southern agro-export sector to a great extent, and alternate roads had to be sought, through the desert.

We are now working again at 100%, we are supplying the markets and fulfilling deliveries.

Estimates of loss?

We have a rough estimate, we have calculated that the damage is around US$300 million, but the population has been affected by more or less S/100 million soles (US$26 million) in salaries. That is why we ask our friends like you in the Netherlands, with whom we have a great international trade, to continue supporting us, to the extent that we make a greater effort and make trade easier. This will help everyone involved to recover more quickly. It is important to understand that in agriculture if a product is spoiled, it is a product that has cost you a year to prepare, so it is a year of investment, it is a year of work, a year of salaries, a year of investment of efforts. We have created a very important and very powerful industry that despite difficulties continues to function, and we have built a very solid country economically. Peru has the lowest debt ratio in the region, it has reserves, a country that has a solid base and is able to attract investment. In the agribusiness sector the appropriate conditions are generated quickly and we are starting to grow, this past year we have grown despite everything, getting close to US$10 billion, in 2020 it was US$8,500-8,800 million.

Peru's credibility as a supplier of food, mainly fruits, has not been affected by the crisis

We have built a reputation and commercial ties for decades, and those commercial partnerships are based on respect, on the quality of the product, on the reputation of our companies and industry. Now, despite the setbacks, the efforts we have put and are putting into the relationship, have generated trust with our customers and with friendly countries like the Netherlands. We had a full pavilion at the Fruit Logistica Expo in Berlin. Our companies and representatives have been there, and we continue working in coordination with national organizations such as PromPeru [Promoting Peru abroad], with the ministry of trade and commerce, and with the embassies. This is a sign that the agro-export sector is moving forward and is more solid and united than ever.

What is the role of AGAP, going forward?

The same as always, support democracy, promote and strengthen everything that means legal security and internal order and continue betting on our country and continue influencing society both for the public and private sector regarding the correct democratic and developmental path that the country has. As we always say in AGAP, we are here to develop the agricultural sector but with a positive economic and social impact for the country, which I want to emphasize.

Last remarks?

Yes, I would like to thank you, the Netherlands and the entire international community - we consider you not only as partners but also as friends of Peru. That is where our products arrive and they always welcome us with affection and respect, and to continue trade and to continue with support is even more important today. We do not want humanitarian support, what we need is to maintain the trust and respect between us, and to intensify international trade. That is the best way to help and, on the other hand, to give us space like the one you are giving us so that the world can hear what is happening. We want the best for our country, we need our country to grow and develop because our country is a solution for the world and we are demonstrating it with our agricultural products, in our mining, in our tourism. Thank you.

If you are interested in delving into these topics or discussing new ideas in the working area, please contact us at LIM-LNV@minbuza.nl